FIFA have blocked the proposed nationality switch of former Spain international and Sevilla forward Munir El-Haddadi, who had hoped to make his international debut for Morocco during the current international window.
According to a statement issued by the Royal Moroccan Football Federation, the player’s nationality switch has been blocked not because of his appearance with Spain’s senior time, but because of earlier outings with the U-21s when he was already 21.
“This rejection is dictated by one of the clauses of the new [FIFA] statue concerning [Munir’s] participation in the under-21 category,” the statement began, “in particular during three matches with the Spanish U-21 selection when he was two months older.
“The decision is not motivated by the participation of El-Haddadi in the Spanish A team.”
The forward, who had hoped to make his Morocco debut in a friendly against Senegal on Friday, had previously been blocked from playing for the Atlas Lions after having made his competitive debut for Spain in a Euro 2016 qualifier against Macedonia in 2014.
Even though he only represented La Roja for quarter of an hour in that match, the previous guidelines from Fifa prevented players from switching nationality after a prior competitive outing.
That all changed with last month’s ruling by world football’s governing body, which allowed players to switch nations providing various criteria were met.
The FRMF have confirmed that they will appeal FIFA’s decision via the Arbitral Appeal Procedure at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“I am not giving up,” Munir wrote on Twitter, “and I will continue working to wear the shirt and represent the national team of Morocco.”
Conversely, FIFA have accepted the nationality switch of former Belgium U-21 international Samy Mmaee, and Aymen Barkok of Eintracht Frankfurt, who had represented Germany at various youth levels including U-21.
After representing Spain at both U-19 and U-21 level during his time with Barcelona, Munir was never again called up by the senior team, and had already approached FIFA as far back as 2017 in order to attempt to switch to Morocco.
There were hopes that the forward could have been able to represent the Atlas Lions at the 2018 World Cup—where they were coincidentally drawn alongside Spain—but despite the Court of Arbitration for Sport taking the matter into account in spring 2018, no progress was made before the tournament.
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